Sunday, July 17, 2022

Large Language Models as a Cultural Technology
AI and Humanity

Recent work on large language models has focused on whether or not they are analogous to individual intelligent agents. I argue that instead we should think of them as cultural transmission technologies, by which accumulated information from other humans is passed on in a compact form. This makes them analogous to other human technologies such as writing, print, libraries and internet search, and arguably language itself rather than as intelligent systems. I will present some data showing that such systems are very bad at solving simple reasoning tasks, but very good at passing on information, and discuss implications of this view for social and technological progress, for good or ill.

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